My big fat Greek reality. 

Many of you have heard of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and the trailer for the second movie came out very recently. My (Greek) dad refuses to watch the first movie because he says it is a bunch of bull, but  my mom and I have both discussed that we could be millionaires if we knew a movie about Greek life could be so entertaining… because most of the movie’s content is for real.

If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it really quick. The movie is really well done. It has family drama, a love story, obstacles that the lovers have to overcome, and comedy along the way.This film sticks out to me though because of the Greekness. While you laugh at the situations, I live them.

Before we begin, here’s  a very brief history of my Greek heritage. My dad was born in Sparta, Greece (wait while someone screams, ‘THIS…IS…SPARTA!!’). He was moved to the United States with his parents when he was not even two years old. He learned English by watching Seasame Street as my grandparents ran their dry cleaning business. My maiden name is GORANITIS. Yes, I know it sounds like a disease, yes it’s hard to say and spell- welcome to my life. I am half Greek, have a name that oozes Greekness, and could’ve made so much money if my family made it into a movie first.

Here is a list of things seen in the movie, and I will give you the scoop on whether they are fluff , or if it applies to my Greek life

  1. Greeks live in Chicago: TRUE. My dad’s family moved to Chicago when he was in high school, and there is definitely a Greek community there. They even have Greek fast food places!  My grandparents live on a street with other Greeks- they stick together.
  2. Greeks always own their own business: TRUE. While this may not be the case for ALL Greeks, it seems to be a trend for those who immigrated here with their families. Notice that in the movie, Voula’s family owns a dry cleaning service- so did my grandparents until they retired. And Voula’s family also owned a travel agency- the only travel agent I know is Greek… not sure why this is a thing.
  3. The kids have to go to Greek school: TRUE. I WAS THAT KID. For about 2 years, my dad would drive us to Greek school every Tuesday night at the Greek Orthodox church. While I did learn a few things, class was mostly the Greek school teacher trying to discipline the troublesome kid, who happened to be the priest’s son…
  4. Greek women are always  cooking: TRUE. This one is 100% true for all of the full Greek yiayias (Greek for ‘grandmas’) out there. Every time I visit my yiayia, she has a massive Greek meal ready to go. Every. Time.
  5. Greeks’ homes are modeled after the Parthenon: FALSE. While there are many Greek statues/flags/pottery inside Greek houses, I have never seen any gaudy Greek things outside of the house. Of course this is just with MY family…
  6. Greeks use Windex to fix everything: FALSE. I feel like this staple in the movie had to do with 2 things. First of all, Windex probably gave them a lot of money to make this movie. However, I have noticed my dad goes through.. let’s call them “phases” where he is obsessed with something and tries to convince everyone else that this is the ONLY  way to go. I think this concept was grasped through the Windex.
  7. Greeks will tell you “Give me a word, ANY word, and I will give you the Greek root”: TRUE. My dad is 100% guilty of this one. Especially when we were in Greek school, EVERYTHING came from a Greek word. The funny thing is, most words DO have a Greek root so…
  8. There is a scary old lady in black that hates people from Turkey: KINDA TRUE. There is always a grandma dressed in all black (a sign of mourning a lost spouse, but they wear black the rest of their life), who does not understand ONE word in English. She probably hates people from Turkey, but can’t tell you because again, no English.
  9. Most Greeks are named Nick: TRUE. I have an Uncle Nick. I have a cousin Nicki… everyone is Nick.
  10. Greeks cover their living room furniture in plastic: TRUE. You may not believe me on this one, but I’m not joking. The main living area in my grandparents house has 2 couches and 2 chairs- all covered in plastic. It’s not as uncomfortable as you would expect.
  11. Greeks have over 20 cousins: FALSE. I have 4 first cousins, so this one doesn’t match with my family. However I think most of the time this one is true for Greek families.
  12. Greeks only want their kids to marry other Greeks: TRUE. You remember the part in the movie where Gus is upset that Toula is going to marry a “xeno”? Xeno is Greek for ‘foreigner’. I know what you’re thinking- wait, he’s from Greece and is in America, so he would be the foreigner, right? Not to them! My grandparents called my mom a “xeni”, feminine version of ‘xeno’ for YEARS after my parents got married. This one is so real that it hurts.
  13. Greeks say weird things like “Nobody talk to me about nothing no more!”: TRUE. There are a few things that get mixed up in translation and leave Greeks putting a bunch of negatives together in a sentence. Also, I didn’t know it was weird to say “close the light” until my husband looked at me like I was crazy one day when I said it. In translation, it’s “close the light”, not “turn off the light”, so my dad learned it that way and it rubbed off on my mom. I am hoping I will rub off on Ryan so I don’t seem as crazy when I say it.
  14. A Greek orthodox baptism has a kiddie pool for adults: FALSE. The church scene is pretty legit, from the priest to the ornate walls… however there is no kiddie pool. Adult baptisms have a large gold basin looking thing. And no, getting baptized in the Greek church does NOT make you Greek.
  15. Greek grandpas came to this country with only $8 in their pocket: TRUE. I get the same story from my grandpa every time I see him. But it’s kind of cool how this one is true.. he literally came to this country with his wife and 1 year old (my dad), had almost no money to his name, and started a new life in a new place. How many of us would have the guts to do that today?
  16. Greeks spit on you for good luck: TRUE. This is also a true thing. Although, we usually don’t really spit, we just go through the motions of it. No one wants to hock a loogie onto a bride.
  17. Greeks yell OPA when they dance: TRUE. We yell ‘OPA’ a lot, even when we are not dancing!
  18. Greeks accept their foreigner in laws and buy their kids a house for their wedding: I WISH.
So there you go! That is a list of the things that stand out to me during the movie. However there are a few more things that I feel need to be further explained in order to appreciate the movie:
  • That instrument playing throughout the whole movie is called a bouzouki. It’s like a Greek banjo.
  • The “moussaka” (pronounced MOO SAH KAH, emphasis on the KAH) that a young Toula is eating is a Greek version of lasagna, with layers of eggplant instead of noodles- DELICIOUS.
  • When Athena says a priest is coming to ‘bless her house’- when Greeks move, they have the priest come sprinkle holy water in each room in order to ward off demons. I have seen this happen, it’s interesting.
  • Ian’s parents confuse Armenian with Greek.. I have heard people think the Kardashians are Greek… GREECE IS NOT ARMENIA.
  • We do eats lots of lamb and drink some ouzo.
  • Spanakopita is mentioned at the engagement party (where it is pronounced correctly- take note!), and it s a delicious spinach pie with spinach and feta wrapped in phyllo (pronounced FEE-LO). If you don’t like spinach, don’t worry- we have a ‘just cheese’ version called tiropita (pronounced TEE RO PEE TA)
In closing, being Greek has its perks. I feel a great connection to my Greek heritage and would never trade it. But as Gus so finely puts it at Toula’s wedding:
We all different, but in the end- we all fruit.
~Ἑλένη   (Eleni)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s